- The pro ‘Hearthstone’ player banned by US game giant Blizzard has spoken out after his ban from the ‘Hearthstone’ pro circuit was reduced from one year to six months, and his prize money was reinstated.
- Chung ‘Blitzchung’ Ng Wai was handed the ban after he shouted “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our age!” during a live post-game interview at a ‘Hearthstone’ tournament, with his prize money also withheld.
- On Saturday, Blitzchung published a personal statement in which he said he was “grateful” to Blizzard for reconsidering its stance, adding that he has “no idea” if he’ll keep playing competitive ‘Hearthstone.’
- Blizzard’s CEO J. Allen Brack has said the “specific views expressed by Blitzchung” were not a factor in the firm’s decision to ban him, and also denied the firm’s Chinese connections played any part.
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The pro ‘Hearthstone’ player banned by Blizzard after voicing support for the Hong Kong protesters has spoken out after his ban was reduced and his prize money reinstated.
On Saturday, the US games giant’s CEO J. Allen Brack published a statement on the firm’s website announcing that Blizzard will be reducing Blitzchung’s ban from one year to six months. In the statement, Brack also wrote “the specific views expressed by blitzchung [sic] were NOT a factor in the decision we made. I want to be clear: our relationships in China had no influence on our decision.”
Blizzard will also reinstate prize money won by Blitzchung during a competitive tournament.
Responding to Blizzard’s announcement, Blitzchung penned a personal statement via Twitter. “I’m grateful for Blizzard reconsidering their position about my ban,” read the statement. “Earlier this week, I told media that I knew I might have penalty or consequence for my act, because I understand that my act could take the conversation away from the purpose of the event.
“In the future, I will be more careful on that and express my opinions or show my support to Hong Kong on my personal platforms.”
Blitzchung added that he “appreciated” both the ban reduction and the reinstatement of his prize money, and urged Blizzard to “reconsider” its ban on the two casters who appeared alongside him when he made his controversial remarks. He also said he had “no idea” if he’ll continue to play competitive ‘Hearthstone’.
Blizzard initially banned Blitzchung from competing for a year and fined him all the prize money he won from the Hearthstone Grandmasters regular-season tournament (roughly $10,000), after he shouted “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our age!” during a post-game interview.
Blizzard is partly owned by Chinese gaming giant Tencent, which holds a 5% stake, and was accused of kowtowing to Chinese sensitivity to all mentions of the pro-democracy protests currently raging in Hong Kong. The ban caused a political maelstrom last week, with gamers, politicians and even Blizzard employees expressing disapproval.
Up to thirty Activision Blizzard employees reportedly staged a walkout at the firm’s Irvine, California headquarters in protest at Blitzchung’s ban, while Democratic Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon tweeted that “Blizzard shows it is willing to humiliate itself to please the Chinese Communist Party” on Tuesday.
Gamers also started to use the Chinese character Mei from Blizzard game ‘Overwatch’ as a mascot in pro-Hong Kong memes and posts on social media.
Blitzchung is still facing a ban, and though Brack denied any Chinese influence on that ban, he did admit to mismanagement of the situation. “In hindsight, our process wasn’t adequate, and we reacted too quickly,” the Blizzard CEO wrote.